Confession: I've never been an official member of the Cult of Kelly Slater.
For those who live under a rock, or maybe just far from water, Slater holds the nine-time ASP World Surfing title, which yes, basically makes him the Demi-God of surfing. Truthfully, I never really understood the beyond the water worship stuff, but God knows I've really wanted to.
Being raised on an island, surfing is an essential part of my culture, so I get it -- Kelly kills it, and he does so in a freakish "holy $#@! is that even possible?" Kind of way. It's been called The Kelly Phenomenon. I've heard it over and over and over for years. Yawn.
Slater's job requires him to work shirtless, this automatically reels in a whole separate, non-surf related fan base that helps kick up the crazy phenomenon Teen girls: check. Moms: check. Sisters and girlfriends (oh, and wives) of surfers: check. As you can see, Slater's got every demographic across the world covered two hundred times over. You can thank his 18- year sponsor, Quiksilver for the world takeover, they have brilliantly created the ultimate branded package that speaks one international language: Kelly.
But you can only hear so much about Kelly the greatest surfer of all time, before you start to ask yourself "is there an actual person behind all the posters, surfboards, magazine covers and all that sexy branding? And if so, who the hell is he? And when is he going to show up?" I suppose I just have a hard time accepting someone being that good at something, and not having anything else swirling around internally that is of interest. I've always wanted some "other" layer of Slater to surface so that I could maybe flirt with the idea of joining the cult.
Well folks, it appears my swell has moved in, a new tell all book washed up on shore this week and it's kind of crush worthy stuff. Tree huggers stand by; I think you just might have yourself a new gold card carrying member.
Kelly Slater: For The Love is 192 pages of pure Kelly in the water and out. Published by Chronicle Books, it delivers a close up and personal peek into the hyper talented and surprisingly eco-nerdy, pro surfer's life.
Hot guys should publish more often.
News flash: Slater is smart. He's a political tree hugger, and deep thinker who writes music and is extremely conscious about his approach to food.
Sure the pages are peppered with post card perfect images of Slater and surf tales from Mundaka to Malibu, and Tavarua to Tahiti. As expected, notable friends drop in on the visual globe trekking tour too: Jack Johnson, Eddie Vedder, Shane Dorian, Tom Curren and many more. And yep, there's even dish on a certain blonde named Pam.
Blah, blah, we've all heard that version. The more appealing pages arrive toward the end of the book, where he speaks out on health, environment, politics, government, war, the mass media and 9/11. Yes, he goes there. Hallelujah, the Demi-God of surfing has thoughts and most of them are a rich forest green color on the eco-color scale.
For the record, I officially filed as "light green" years ago, and that shade and me are perfectly content and doing our part. Kelly's shade is much darker.
He writes, " My ultimate dream is to live on my acreage in Hawaii and grow my own food, catch my own water, and live completely free of the grid on solar and wind energy. I'd love to have a koa forest too. " Yeah, me too. Well, maybe just the living on the acreage part in Hawaii.
And for those who want to shred like Kelly, well, you might consider eating like him, which means say bye bye to post-surf Big Macs, shakes, and fries. Clearly I have zero desire to surf like Kelly because as soon as I wrap this up, I'm contemplating In and Out Double Double or a burrito from Whole Foods.
Just this past week Slater did a nine-day cleanse. Yes I said nine days. Personally, I don't even want to know what that encompasses, if I don't have a scoobie snack every two hours, I am hell on wheels to everyone around me and a direct danger to myself. I admire anyone who can get through even an hour cleanse.
What Slater puts in his body actually sounds like a prerequisite to becoming a permanent Berkeley resident (been there , done that). A typical meal while on the road nabbing trophies from everyone on tour: dried fruit, bananas and dates mostly, apples, pears and he goes for Super Foods Plus supplement -- barely maize, chickpea, rice, oats linseed, mung beans (what exactly are those anyway?) barley grass and rice. All this apparently has everything you need to get your body alkalized. Is it wrong that I don't want my body alkalized? This may be really good for me, but if I ate all of this stuff at once, I would likely be moved to commit minor acts of violence. Note to self: try this or visualize eating like this at some point in life, just not today.
Slater doesn't drink coffee, instead he wakes up and drinks hot tea lemon and maple syrup "because at night your digestive process is doing a lot of stuff and it's nice to flush your body with hot water." He also doesn't drink milk. He has a page dedicated to speaking out against pasteurized milk and the effect it has on our overall health. He certainly thinks a lot about health and wellness and clearly it's paying off.
You'll also get his view on bio fuels, carbon offsets, and sustainability. Here's some insane trivia: Slater uses more surfboards than anyone on the planet (about 70 per year.) He doesn't feel so stoked on this statistic. I'm not so sure exactly where surfboards go to die, but that is a lot of polyurethane , fiberglass, and epoxy resin to figure out. He's working with Channel Islands and Biofoam blanks to move towards recyclable foam and soy-based resins. Calling all Eco-geniuses...
And for those who seek the lighter fare, cliff notes Kelly: he's always late; loves avocados and credits golf for improving his life. He's also dad to a 12-year-old daughter named Taylor.
While I'm still not joining the cult of Kelly, I am delighted that Surfing's biggest name has revealed a layer that might create a wider conversation and leave the nine-time world champion fodder at the door -- at least until I start my cleanse.